Many artists have tried to portray states as depression, bipolarism and anxiety. I believe that the states that we all go through affects us the same, but every person emerges from the experience as different individual. My experience is no different than a lot of people, what differs from person to person is how we choose to deal with the aftermath. After going through a myriad of possible solutions that involved medication, therapy, and meditation, I came to a conclusion. Cycling is what really helps me!
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and subsequently resulted in a series of lockdowns, more and more people have reported feeling lonely and isolated, from their peers and families. According to a study carried out by the AARP Foundation and the United Health Foundation, 66% of U.S. adults who were interviewed agreed that the current pandemic increased their anxiety level.
A study published in European Psychiatry on the effects of the lockdown on the general population in Italy showed that 12.4% of the participants reported severe or extremely severe levels of depressive symptoms. This doesn’t only apply to adults. Students learning through online platforms have reported heighten stress levels as well as lower overall satisfaction during the semesters when their classes were almost completely online. This pandemic has not only had a significant impact on the economies, healthcare, and travel of certain countries. We can clearly see the correlation with the rise of mental issues connected to the start of the pandemic and the preventive measures taken by the governments (most notably the lockdowns).
It’s also interesting that, despite hitting every country’s economy differently, the effects of COVID-19 on mental illness of people have remained the same throughout the world. This is a problem that we all share together and with the same severity. That is exactly why I believe we should deal with it with the same attention to detail and help wherever possible. So how can cycling and the general hobby of bicycles help us all through these weird, exhausting, and confusing times?
When I first moved to Sweden, after the groceries, the second thing I bought was a bicycle. At the time I believed it would only be a means of transportation, as it turns out it was much more. I had always been very conservative with the way I view medical treatment. However, depression opened my eyes to so many alternatives. After emerging from my doctor’s office with two boxes of antidepressants and a box of anxiety medication, I set out to find the best possible way to keep this illness at bay. I went through a lot of videos, articles and self-help, bite-sized Instagram carousels. A lot of these articles proposed physical activity as an aid to the usually prescribed medication and cognitive-behavioural therapy. So, I set out to utilise my bicycle to its fullest potential.
I would ride everywhere I had to go, be it university, my job or to a friend’s house for dinner and even just to ride around when the weather allows it. Living in a small city in the south of Sweden has its perks. For example, I can get anywhere around the city quickly and efficiently within 20 minutes. It also isn’t as cold as the other parts of Sweden so having thermal clothing wasn’t a concern. After two weeks (because it apparently takes 21 days to form a habit) I fell in love with this arrangement. I took my bike everywhere I went. After a full day of cycling I would come home physically exhausted but mentally recharged. I found this to be the best possible solution for my situation and I would happily suggest it to anyone that has a bike and feels like they need some help.
By Filip Huseni